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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Impressionism: Love it or Hate it?

Claude Monet Nympheas 1915, Munich

I think Impressionism is gorgeous, peaceful, and a genius concept.  It fell under much criticism due to its lack of line and structure, but what is more incredible about beauty than its fleeting qualities? Claude Monet created the above painting, Nympheas, in 1915 in Munich (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_monet).  He often chose pond-like scenes, such as water lilies and weeping willows as his subjects.  These allowed for color, serenity, and dancing breezes and lighting.

Some Post-Impressionism works carry the same qualities.  Consider Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone (below).  In this painting, you see the same light-play on the water, and undefined, fleeting details.

In contrast, let’s compare Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to its recent predecessor, Realism:

Whistler’s Mother, 1871, James McNeill Whistler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistlers_Mother)

Aside from the lack of focus on light and clearly defined lines, notice how there isn’t anything in the painting that could feel fleeting.  In fact, this piece feels hours long.  Viewing it is almost reminiscent of being a child and sitting in the stillness and silence while visiting an elderly relative with your parents.  Both styles have their appeal and are infused with moment-capturing talent.  However, the light of Impressionism is a well-captured treasure.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_monet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistlers_Mother

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Blog #3 AMT200

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed this piece, Piano Sonata No. 11 around 1783 in Vienna or Salzburg.  It is a 3-movement Sonata, with all pieces being in A major or A minor.  Because of this, it is consider homotonal. (Wikipedia, Piano Sonato No.11)  Notice how this contrasts to the polyphonic music of the Renaissance, and also how much more pleasant it is to listen to than the complex compositions.

The three movements of this sonata are broken down into the following: 1. Andante grazioso 2. Menuetto 3. Alla Turca: Allegretto.  The third portion, Alla Turca, is widely popular and is often simply called Turkish Rondo (Wikipedia, Piano Sonato No.11).

Mozart was a child prodigy and toured Europe.  Throughout his life, he wrote over 600 pieces in German and Italian.  As is all too common with celebrities and performers, Mozart suffered from depression.  Tragically, he died at the age of 35, and was placed in a common, unmarked grave.(Uaf blackboard amt200, Wikipedia)

I chose this composition because of its personal meaning to me.  When my first child was born, I received a compilation of Mozart’s music to play to soothe the baby.  Now, three boys later, we still listen to it.  This song, with its joyful notes, will always remind me of those years and bring me a reminiscent smile.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_Sonata_No._11_%28Mozart%29

https://classes.uaf.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_116531_1%26url%3D (taken from Wikipedia?)

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
Aside

This piece, entitled Spring, is actually a portion of Antonio Vivaldi’s larger work, The Four Seasons.  It was composed in 1723, published in 1725, made its first appearance in Amsterdam, spread rapidly through France, and has become one of the most popular Baroque pieces (Wikipedia, The Four Seasons).

    The Four Seasons itself was a component of a larger compilation, Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (The trial of harmony and invention), opus 8, which was comprised of twelve concertos. The movements of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter reflect the happenings of nature during each of those seasons, such as instrumental sounds to imitate thunderstorms, or leaves floating to the ground. Several others of the twelve concertos (Storm at Sea, Pleasure, The Hunt) also use descriptive notes to depict the theme of the composition. (Baroquemusic.org, Vivaldi)

The rise of the merchant class created a demand for music that was pleasant to listen to, steering it away from severely complex polyphonic styles.  Though simpler in theory than the polyphonic compositions, Vivaldi’s Spring is aesthetically magnificent.  The notes truly echo the splendor of the seasons and celebrate their differences.

References:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Seasons_

2. http://www.baroquemusic.org/bqxvivaldi.html%28Vivaldi%29

Blog #2 AMT200

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Blog #1 AMT200

Image

Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (Nascita di Venere) 1486

Aside from being very beautiful, Botticelli’s Venus can also be appreciated for its deeper significances.

Firstly, the Italian Renaissance was a time of very religious artistic work.  The Medici family and the Catholic Church combined created a high demand for religious pieces.  Depending on its interpreter, Venus can very much be viewed as having religious influences.  The characters are somewhat heavenly, and with many paintings of the time depicting the Virgin Mary, it was not out of the question for this painting to possibly represent Her.

Secondly, and on the flip side of that, Venus was a mythological character. Such ideas were generally in conflict with the religious values of the time.  According to mythology, Venus represents love and passion– these humanistic characteristics are very evident in Botticelli’s painting.

Thirdly, The Birth of Venus may also have had political significance.  It is speculated that the female characters of the painting were modeled after Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci, to gain favor with the Medicis, two of whom are rumored to have been enamored with her (Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus_%28Botticelli%29).

It is also interesting, that in contrast to other paintings of the Italian Renaissance, Botticelli’s work here lacks the painstakingly realistic human proportions, and sought after depth and perception that was characteristic of the period.

Personally, the painting appeals to me out of its surreal beauty.  The shell brings to mind mermaids, and the mysterious world that we on land are not a part of.  The color palette is rich, but soft, unlike some of the dark, intense pieces of the Renaissance.  Venus‘s whimsy and many possible interpretations make it impossible to grow tired of.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized